Ten years ago today I married my wife.
I think that marrying Amanda was pretty much the most significant decision I’ve made outside of responding to God’s invitation to place Jesus at the center of my life.
In honor of our 10 years, I’d like to share a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1. Everyone farts. I’m pretty sure there are people that you’ve never imagined passing gas, but you know what… they do. Everyone from Barak Obama to Pope Benedict break wind, and my wife is no exception to this. When we got married I had a lofty, unrealistic image of Amanda that was quickly shattered. I’m glad it was, because now I get to love her not because she’s perfect but because she’s herself.
2. When you sin it hurts someone. There’s no such thing as a ‘harmless little sin’. All sin hurts someone. In our marriage I saw directly for the first time how my sin hurt someone else, and it changed the way I viewed my behavior, my choices, and myself. I love my wife, and this constant reality has been something God has used many, many times in my life.
3. Morning breath is real, folks. It doesn’t matter how many packs of mints you buy and put in a drawer in the nightstand, morning breath is killer. You can’t dress that stuff up. A mint over morning breath is like air freshener in the bathroom… I smell both of them. There are things you can’t cover up. In marriage you can’t hide, and that’s a wonderful reality.
4. The best things are worth waiting for. We live in a world that wants instant gratification, but God’s plan has always been to sacrifice and wait patiently. We waited almost 5 years to have our daughter. Lots of tears were cried in those 5 years as we wrestled with God’s plan, but Jesus is brilliant. He knew what we needed. I wouldn’t trade anything for what we have in our daughter. Watching my now almost 3 year old daughter dance around the room while almost singing “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen last night, I was simply overwhelmed with thankfulness.
5. Something’s are worth fighting for. Some aren’t. We pretty much fought our entire honeymoon. I was a total jerk about pretty much everything. About three-fourths of the way through the week I realized I was being a jerk and repented. Over the last ten years we’ve fought about everything from bananas (this morning) to parenting philosophy. Some difficult conversations are worth having, because it’s something that needs to be processed together. Lots of them (like bananas this morning) aren’t that important.
6. If you’re looking for a way out, you’ll find one. If you enter any commitment looking for a reason that it can’t work, then you’ll find one. Marriage is no exception to that. Invert that and it’s true too: If you’re always looking for a reason to remain faithful, you’ll find one too. Faithfulness is the culmination of lots of tiny steps that focus on the right ending. What you’re focusing on will define your marriage.
7. Laughing is good medicine. I’m going to confess something we’ve never shared… about once a month we stay up really late having a tickle fight. It’s never planned. They just kind of happen through a series of escalations and “don’t you dare do that” challenges. My wife has an amazing laugh. It’s contagious. Her laugh makes me laugh, and it comforts me. I’m glad she laughs, because it’s always an invitation to something fun.
8. Listen. Most of us want to talk. We want our voices to be heard. That’s understandable, because your voice should matter. I’ve learned to listen in our marriage, not because I’m dumbfounded, but because my wife is an expert in things I’m not, namely HERSELF! So, when Amanda told me “I don’t like to come home to flowers, I’d rather you buy me flowers and bring them to work”… I listened to her!
9. It’s not always going to be easy. It’s actually hard work. Doing this right involves a lot of sacrifice and self-denial. A good, healthy marriage can NEVER be self-centered. On a good day, that’s not easy. Hit a difficult patch, and it’s next to impossible. That’s why you can’t do it alone. We desperately need Jesus in our marriages. His love is the only love that can carry us through difficult seasons together.
10. Grace sustains. If my sin leaves a wound in our marriage, it is Grace that heals it. If you get close to anyone, they’ll wound you eventually. Wounds hurt. A lot. That’s why we need grace. Grace sustains our relationships. After all, isn’t that God’s plan for us… that He’d love us, give us grace, and sustain a relationship with us when we’ve proven countless times that we don’t deserve it.
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What lessons have you learned in your marriage?